Money and relationships can get complicated. It can be really challenging to talk about money with a spouse or partner, let alone manage a budget together.
In some ways, I got lucky with my partner because he is one of the most frugal people I know. At the same time, I have had many moments of frustration with him, since he avoids talking about money or dealing with it at all costs (especially since I am the exact opposite and LOVE talking about money).
Last night I started talking about retirement accounts and Brandon reminded me of our rule: no money talk in bed. Although that rule is super fair, it can be frustrating because he tends to avoid money talk even when we aren’t in bed (one time I was talking about money and he ran to jump into our bed just to avoid the conversation, lol).
I also have my own issues around money that frustrate Brandon; I tend to be very controlling around it, obsessing over making sure we have a plan for everything in a way that can be very annoying and sometimes obsessive. Over time, we have learned how to deal with each other, and have found ways to create a balance between our two extremes.
Share your goals and visions with each other (and they don’t have to be the same).
Just like it is hard for you to stick to your money goals without knowing why you are making the sacrifices it takes to reach them, your partner will not be on board if they don’t know why they are committing to them either. Brandon and I have different reasons why we want to be financially independent. He wants to have the freedom to spend his time out in the woods backpacking and hiking. I want to have the freedom to spend time with family and friends and have a stress free, simple life. It is okay that our goals are different, we get excited talking about our goals with each other and know that financial independence will allow both of us to live out our dreams.
Know each other’s strengths and base the way you manage money as a team around those strengths.
Since I love budgeting and spreadsheets, I took charge of all our finances early on in our relationship. At some point though, I started getting resentful that Brandon wasn’t doing any of the work, and he got resentful that I was controlling all of our money. These resentments were all based on how society told us we should handle our finances, not on what actually worked for us. So, we switched to splitting up the responsibilities which we thought would make us both happier. Honestly, I am glad we did this because it helped us both realize how miserable it made us. Brandon hated being responsible for paying certain bills and I hated not having complete control, worrying that he would forget something. We decided to switch back to me controlling all of our finances and this time we loved it! Now it feels like his gift to me is allowing me to do something that I love, and it is my gift to him allowing him to avoid something that is stressful and traumatizing to him. We no longer resent each other in the process but are thankful that we found a system that works for us, even if others may think it is weird.
Make time to talk about money (and it is okay to create incentives to convince your partner to do this with you).
Even though I control the finances, we still make regular time to talk about money together. Mostly because I want his feedback on things. Because these conversations are hard for Brandon, I usually barter with him around these conversations. I offer to do something that he will enjoy right after. This makes him feel more willing to do something that is hard for him, it works, and we both feel okay with this tactic. He does the same with me when trying to convince me to do something that I find difficult.
Learn about each other’s money trauma and be sensitive to it.
Almost everyone has trauma around money from their childhood. It is important to sit down and learn about what finances were like for your partner when they were growing up and how that makes them relate to money today. Knowing about their trauma makes it easier to have empathy when they do something around money that is frustrating to you. It is also easier to have patience and better conversations when you understand where they are coming from. Taking this time to understand each other better will save you both from so many unnecessary fights and lead to more connectedness within your relationship.
What are your tips for working well together with your partner on building a kick-ass financial plan together that you both are able to stick to? Put them in the comments below.